Can We Talk About Love and Peace Now?

After yesterday's bombing in Boston, I cannot keep silent any longer -- I don't think we can have a war on anything and expect peace to be the outcome.

No war on terrorism, drugs, guns or anything else has ever achieved a lasting defeat to what it was trying to eradicate. And here we are as a nation, again, trying to make sense of senseless violence and horror, and it really doesn't matter much who perpetrated it or what their motive. There is no sense to be made, only decisions moving forward on how we want to operate collectively and individually, and who we choose to be in the face of recent events.

I will admit that I am a believer in love, peace, and compassion for my fellow man being a more powerful force than kicking ass and taking names. I've been told that makes me naïve or Pollyanna. But I'm not talking about the kind of love or compassion that exists when everything looks rosy and it's convenient. I'm talking about the kind of love that says I will not fear you because you believe differently than I do; I do not have to be right in order to co-exist peacefully with you. I mean the kind of compassion that says the perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes like yesterday's bombings had to have come from a broken and pain-filled place in order to do what they did. Seeing someone's brokenness does not mean we hold them less accountable for their actions. It does, however, mean that we take stock of a situation from a place that isn't merely reactionary.

Politicians get votes and military budgets appropriated by both pandering to our greatest fears and paranoia, and by convincing us that they will, in some way, either by might or by eroding our personal freedoms and privacy, protect us from the harm that is surely lurking around every corner. None of this is true, let alone plausible.

So I think we're at a crossroads. We know that in a post-9/11 world, every plane ride, subway ride, sporting event, or mass public gathering carries with it the real threat of ill-intentioned crazies. We can legally arm ourselves to the hilt (and you can note great disdain in my voice as I'm saying that), tap phone lines, train bomb-sniffing dogs all we want, but there is inherent and palpable risk that we face every day. It's just that we know it now and it's freaking us out.

If you ask me, the real courage is in our choosing to live mindfully, knowing that no one's safe arrival home from their day's journey is guaranteed. So maybe we should love a little more vocally, hug that extra second or two, remind ourselves that the little things that set us off are really nothing in the grand scheme of things. And for that matter, that a kind word can make all the difference, that our actions are the living example of our beliefs, and that, since we've already tried it the other way and it hasn't worked, maybe it's time to consider that love and peace should not just be topics relegated to Sunday morning religious services or the confines of our own homes. They are needed globally on a massive scale that only everyone's participation can achieve. We cannot delegate compassion.

So maybe my hands are sweating typing this, wondering what the fallout will be from proposing that we each take stock of our hearts, our goals, our desires as a people and hold ourselves accountable for being the force of love and peace in a world that often seems to exude the diametric opposite. But I think it's time. Don't you?